T Nation

Heavy Lifting Is Scary


Lately, as I set up for my 5x5 deadlifts, I've been taking more and more time to get ready. Of course I need some time to psych myself up, but lot of this is fear of not completing the set. Usually I complete the set, so I know this is a psychological issue and not a physiological one.

On a related topic, I once benched heavy at home without a spotter and ended up smashing my face. As a result, I've since switched to dumbbell bench presses because I'm afraid of using the barbell.

Do you guys have fear issues, and if so how do you overcome them? Thanks in advance, even if you're just recommending I stop being a goddamn pussy.


i don't feel safe using my bench. but for everything else i try and think of the weights as being much lighter than they really are if u know what i mean.


You think you're scared now, take a trip to Mother Russia, where the weights LIFT YOU!

But seriously, I don't see a reason to be scared if you're smart about how you train. BB bench at home alone? Yea, probably a bad idea. Live and learn.
I'll sometimes feel nervous that I won't be able to finish a full set with a new (heavier) weight, only because I hate repeating the same shit next time!
You just gotta get under the bar, and if your set of 8 squats becomes a set of 6 with some breathing reps at the end, so be it. It just means you can't move up to a new weight yet.


fear of not completing a set is fairly rational IMO.

thats what drives you to finish it, no?


This actually happens on pulldowns. When I'm done and get myself loose from the thing holding your legs in place, I fly up if I keep holding the bar.

I'm Norwegian, and we have a border with Russia. Could that be it?


Are pausing for a few seconds between reps for a deep breath considered cheating? (I really don't know, I do it quite regularly when benching for my last set.)


I wouldn't call it cheating. I usually pause and take a deep breath between the last few reps of every exercise.
Depends on your goals I guess. Are you trying to get bigger and stronger? Is it hindering your goal? If not, I'd say no.


i actually had a similar problem with the barbell bench cos i work out at home and more often than not on my own. i switched to dumbells too for the 5x5s only using a barbells with a GVT program. but my problem was solved by getting a power rack which has helped my strength a lot. if you've got space i suggest you do likewise. that'll probably help psychologically with other lifts too because you'll likely discover you're stronger than you think. i probably used to be a bit of a pussy too but now i've got a bit of confidence that i'm not made of glass and i love stepping up to a heavy deadlift.


stop being a goddamn pussy! and use a power rack for safety issues!




I have a bad knee I'm too scared to push myself with squats, but bench, I've pulled a pec and still got the weight up. It's almost like fear of letting it choke me out makes me push more. Of course I'm not pushing 500lbs if I was maybe I wouldn't do that at home alone... that's right I workout at a gym anyway. Definitely not going to embarass myself and get the weight caught at me there.


Have confidence, get fired up, and just fucking do it. Usually works for me.


I feel it more like a challenge, so mine is not really fear; I get angry because the bar is staring at me as it was thinking: "You're not gonna do it, this time"...And I really want to shut its mouth up...Yeah, I visualize it having a mouth and making fun of me!


I'll give you all a big tip. Don't user lockers on the bench, if you can't get it to a pin to drop it on then just dump the weight, no biggie. With that being, us the powerrack and get used to using alot of weight, example; I wanted to break the parallel barrier with 315 so I used the powerrack as well as going really heavy on legpress 1000-1250 at the time, and constantly worked at taking 225-285 down to the floor and doing partials with 1.5x-2xmy ATG or ATA weight, then before I knew it the big weights, 315, 375, 405, 455 weren't that scary anymore and conversely I'm doing 1/2's and 3/4 jumps with over 600 now. I.e use your tools, the power rack, partials, deep legpresses, and don't be scured.


Permitting that you're training intelligently, try to replace your fear with anger until your set is over. I get that anxiety too on heavy lifts...especially ones that are more difficult to get away from if you fail like B-bench and back squats. Also, if you dropped the bar on your face (sorry by the way), you may want to have someone check your form if you go back to bar benching...that usually happens when you have your wrists cocked backwards and aren't holding them perpendicular to the ground. One fucked up way I get myself angry before a big lift is I imagine someone raping or beating my fiance..the weights are fucked at that point.


Thanks for the tips, fellas. I usually try positive thinking/visualizations to prepare for a set. I'll try getting mad and see if I hulk out.

As for bench, I think I'm going to stick with dumbbells until I run out of weight, at which point I'll have to move to the barbell. I'm going to begin close grip benching for assistance soon, so hopefully I'll gain back confidence under the barbell.

Also, on reflection, I kind of like a small amount of fear. Not knowing if I'm going to complete the set and then doing so feels really awesome. Maybe chasing that feeling will help.


I usually reach down, put my hand between my legs and see what's going on there....

If ya miss a deadlift, other than the shame, it's not the end of the world!


Blow the sand out of your vagina, tuck your tampon, and lift the bar dammit.


You need to develope the confidence of knowing that when you lay down on the bench to complete a set or a near max rep, it is already as good as done.

You can only get that from doing it.


I get butterflies before a final set of squats, but as soon as I get under it to unrack it all goes away. It's just mentally being in control of the weight.